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Sunday, 8 September 2013

From Today's Papers - 08 Sep 2013
Four suspected militants killed
Majid Jahangir/Suhail A Shah
Tribune News Service

Srinagar/Anantnag, SepT 7
Four persons were killed and one was injured in south Kashmir’s Shopian district in a firing by Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel. The killings took place hours ahead of the Zubin Mehta’s concert in Shalimar Garden.

While the CRPF maintains that the slain youth were militants and were killed in an encounter when they opened fire at the battalion headquarters in Gagren Shopian, 60 km from Srinagar, locals said the youth were civilians and were killed in an unprovoked firing.

“Six youth appeared on two motorcycles near 14th Batallion camp in Gagren when a sentry asked them to stop. One of the youth fired at the CRPF man with a pistol and in the retaliatory fire, three militants were killed on the spot and one died later. They were all militants,”

CRPF spokesman Kishore Prasad told The Tribune. “One militant managed to escape. We recovered a pistol and two Chinese grenades and a mobile phone from the spot,”

The police said the initial investigation has revealed that two among the dead were militants.

The locals, however, say that all four victims were civilian youth and were doing stunt biking in the camp area when CRPF shot them dead in an unprovoked firing at around 1 pm. One of the killed youth has been identified as Tawseef Ahmad Bhat, 17, son of Ghulam Muhammad Bhat of Baba Mohalla Shopian.

“Three other bodies have been kept at the district police lines, Shopian, and their identity is yet to be revealed,” the source said.

The injured youth said the firing was unprovoked. Adil Ahmad Wachkoo of Bonna Bazar area, a first year student, said he was on the way to the examination centre to appear in his biannual examination.

“I, along with my friend Tawseef, was on the way to appear in my BA final year examination at Degree College, Shopian, when we came under CRPF fire,” Wachkooo said at SMHS. “Tawseef died on way to the hospital,”

Wachkoo was shifted to SMHS Hospital in Srinagar and his condition has been stated as stable by the doctors.

Soon after the incident, hundreds of people came out to the streets in Shopian and demanded action against the erring CRPF personnel.

Meanwhile, 10 persons, including nine policemen, were injured in a grenade attack in Pulwama town of South Kashmir region.
US can’t turn a blind eye to Syria: Obama

Washington, September 7
President Barack Obama today told his war-weary country that America needs to use limited military force in Syria to deter future chemical weapons attacks, but said he did not want to enter into another costly and protracted war. “This would not be another Iraq or Afghanistan,” Obama said in his weekly radio and internet address, previewing arguments he will make in a nationally televised address on Tuesday.

“Any action we take would be limited, both in time and scope — designed to deter the Syrian government from gassing its own people again and degrade its ability to do so,” Obama said. A week ago, Obama said he felt limited strikes in Syria were needed, but added he wanted to ask the Congress to authorise the use of military force. Neither Democratic nor Republican lawmakers have been enthused about the prospect, partly because Americans strongly oppose getting involved in another Middle Eastern conflict.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll on Tuesday said 56 per cent of Americans believed the US should not intervene, while only 19 per cent supported action. "I know that the American people are weary after a decade of war, even as the war in Iraq has ended, and the war in Afghanistan is winding down. That's why we're not putting our troops in the middle of somebody else's war," Obama said in his recorded address.

Obama and his top officials plan an intensive lobbying effort on Capitol Hill next week, scheduling meetings with undecided lawmakers.

Obama said failing to respond to the August 21 attack that Washington blames on President Bashar al-Assad’s government and that killed hundreds of children and more than 1,400 persons in total, would threaten US national security by increasing the chance of future chemical attacks from the Syrian government, terrorist groups, or other nations. “We are the United States of America. We cannot turn a blind eye to images like the ones we've seen out of Syria,” he said. — Reuters
Kerry welcomes EU statement
US Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed a European Union (EU) statement on Saturday that said there appeared to be strong evidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical attack on civilians . “We are grateful for the statement that came out of the meeting with respect to Syria — a strong statement about the need for accountability,” Kerry said.
The view from inside Pakistan
There is a clear disconnect in Pakistan between what people think about relations with India and the confrontationist approach adopted by their government. In fact, most look upon India as the aggressor.
Raj chengappa
At school, among the many short stories I studied the one that made a lasting impression was 'Purdah'. It was a simple story of how a family hid its poverty by hanging a fancy curtain on its front door to veil the misery inside. Travelling on the Lahore-Islamabad motorway last week, I was reminded of this story. The motorway is Pakistan’s showpiece and is superbly maintained. The speed limit of 120 kmph meant my 360 km drive to Islamabad took only three and a half hours. While my journey from Chandigarh to the Wagah border, around 300 km, had taken five.

Yet the motorway hides much of the strife and suffering Pakistan is currently experiencing. Pull over to one of the many dhabas on the highway and the sheen disappears. The acute power shortage meant that none of the air-conditioners worked and the odd fan that ran on generators was unable to blow away the fetid air. Like in India, with the economy tanking, the Pakistan rupee has been in free fall and now a dollar fetches around Rs 100.

The well-to-do, who zoom around in fancy SUVs, still live comfortably. But they form only a small percentage. The masses suffer from power and water shortages, unemployment, rising prices and appear to live in quiet desperation. That’s why in the recent general elections the big issue was governance and Asif Zardari’s PPP was voted out of power. On the other hand, the PML-Q won handsomely in Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, because it had delivered.
While delivering the Distinguished Speakers Series lecture jointly organised by the Jinnah Institute and the Australia-India Institute in Islamabad, I realised the audience was puzzled over the recent rise of tensions between India and Pakistan on the Line of Control. Many asked me why India was being so hostile when both sides had to focus on issues like development.

There was a clear disconnect between what they thought about relations with India and the confrontationist approach adopted by the Pakistan government. Instead, surprisingly, most looked upon India as the aggressor. Defence Minister AK Antony’s shifting statements in Parliament over the attack on the LoC that saw five Indian soldiers being killed was cited as proof of India’s duplicity.

The perception was that the Indian Army had become a major force in determining India's foreign policy issues, particularly on Pakistan. Army Chief Bikram Singh's public statement after the LoC attacks saying that India would respond in kind was seen as an unnecessary act of provocation. There was little comprehension of the depth of anger in India over the 26/11 Mumbai attacks or the recent LoC violations and the need for the Pakistan establishment to bring the perpetrators to book.

There was a great deal of interest in the rise of Narendra Modi and whether the BJP would win the 2014 General Election under his leadership. And whether the UPA government would field Rahul Gandhi as Prime Minister to counter Modi. They also wanted to know the reasons why the Indian economy, whose growth they had watched with a mix of admiration and envy, was suddenly experiencing a downturn.

It was when I told them that India continued to view Pakistan in a negative light because it hadn't taken action against cross-border terror groups that I saw sparks of anger. At one stage I said that while I advocated talks between the two Prime Ministers when they met in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, if Pakistan didn't turn the terror tap off and continued to needle India, we could cut off relations with them completely with no impact to us. Pakistan could no more hinder our progress. That was seen as a sign of “Indian arrogance” by someone in the audience. I realised then that many Pakistanis disliked India treating them as a smaller neighbour and wanted parity.

Yet, if India is hard-focused on solving its internal problems, so is Pakistan. Their morning newspapers carried reports of how Karachi was on the brink of anarchy and there was need for the army to be called in. There were daily reports of sectarian violence in some parts of the country. There were TV talk shows on whether Sharif was able to handle the multifarious crises Pakistan faces. Debates were held on Pakistan’s policy towards India and Afghanistan. I found the press in Pakistan as lively and rumbustious as that in India.

Most of all, I saw a hope that the new government would pull Pakistan out of the morass. In my previous visits to Pakistan not long ago, people appeared to be downbeat, what with so much internal strife and the economy on a skidrow. Vis-a-vis India, many suspected it wanted to split Pakistan further, or nurtured ambitions of a 'Grander India'. I stressed the point that Partition could not be undone, and that a peaceful Pakistan would only be in India’s interest. Much, however, depends on the skills of Nawaz Sharif to steer them through the difficult times. I wish the people of Pakistan well.
Army called in after communal violence kills nine in UP's Muzaffarnagar, curfew imposed
LUCKNOW: A day after the Centre issued an alert to seven states including Uttar Pradesh against communal polarization leading to violence ahead of 2014 general elections, fresh violence broke out in Muzaffarnagar. On Saturday nine people, including a reporter of a TV news channel, were killed and 34 were injured.

Curfew has been imposed in the areas under three police stations and additional security forces were rushed to the district, which has been simmering for past 10 days following violence in Kawal village in which three people were killed. Late on Saturday night, Army was called in to help the district administration for maintenance of law and order. All districts in the state have also been put on the high alert after the incident.

In Lucknow, additional director general (law and order), Arun Kumar said that among those killed included Rajesh Verma, a journalist associated with a private news channel. He said that the journalist was killed in the firing in Abupura locality in the Muzaffarnagar city.

"The curfew has been clamped in three riot-hit areas under Civil Lines, Kotwali and Nai Mandi police stations. Adequate security arrangements were made for the mahapanchayat. However, as the communal divide runs deep in the area, a small incident triggered large-scale violence. Already over 2,000 security personnel headed by senior officers were deployed in the district in view of the tense situation. Now more forces have been rushed. We are keeping a watch on other parts of the state," he said.

According to reports, violence broke out after a mahapanchayat was organized by members of a community in Naglabadhod. Thousands assembled at the venue demanding withdrawal of cases registered in connection with August 27 Kawal violence. They also demanded Rs 25 lakh as compensation amount for two out of three people who lost their lives in Kawal.

When the people were going back from the mahapanchayat, they were attacked by the members of other community ensuing heavy brick-batting leaving several injured. As the news of attack spread like wildfire in other parts of the district, people from both the communities came out on the streets and clashed with each other, setting afire houses, shops and vehicles.

The clashes took place despite heavy deployment of the police personnel, Provincial Armed Constabulary, Rapid Action Force and Central Reserve Police Force. The state government decision to allow the mahapanchayat backfired as fiery speeches were made during the event.

The violence that followed at many places in the town appeared to have been engineered in a planned manner.

Mobs were armed with fire arms and sharp-edged weapons. Heavy exchange of fire was reported from several places. They mobs also attacked reporters to deter them from recording the violence.

Some of the rural areas were also hit. A photographer, hired by police, was beaten to death in Sekeda village. The police also had to use force and fire on the rioting mobs at a few places.

The district was tense since August 27 when a boy of a community was killed by two brothers in Kawal village when the former tried to molest their sister. In retaliation, the members of the community to which the deceased belong attacked the two youth and killed them. Next day, some political parties gave a call of strike in the district.

Stray incidents of violence were also reported during the strike. Later, police booked 229 people, including a local BJP MLA, Sangit Some, for allegedly sharing on the internet sensitive photos related to the recent Kawal incident.

A fake video of a mob beating two youths to death also surfaced in YouTube.

The Kawal incident also led to violence in neighbouring Shamli distcit in which a man was allegedly shot dead.

Earlier during the day, crime branch of the police arrested ex-Jansath block pramukh, Virender Singh, for an alleged provocative speech during the last meeting on August 31.

Singh is a cousin of Shashank Shekhar Singh, who was the former UP cabinet secretary in the previous Mayawati government in the state. The ex-pramukh was arrested for allegedly participating in the unauthorized meeting while prohibitory orders were in force in the area.

Director general of police (DGP), Deo Raj Nagar, who visited the violence-hit areas on Friday, said that a special task force has been formed to probe the Kawal incident. "Some anti-social elements are trying to create communal tension. The STF will be help in bring situation under control," he said.

More than 50 incidents of communal tension at various places have taken place in UP after Samajwadi Party came to power in March last year. In 12 such incidents, violence claimed more than 25 lives. The central intelligence agencies in their recent report had warned about more riots.

On September 4, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav had also reviewed the law and order in view of the threat. Sources said while communal riots in different parts of the state in the past 18 months have created a "volatile" situation, the ongoing tussle between the SP government and the VHP over the ongoing 84-kosi yatra has also contributed to the tension.

Many see it as a "fixed match" between the SP and the BJP to divide votes on communal lines in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections in 2014.

Meanwhile, state's urban development and minority welfare minister Azam Khan warned those "trying to harm the atmosphere of the state" in the name of caste and community. In a statement, Khan said that government will ensure stern action against those involved in such acts and appealed to the people to exercise restraint.

The government also issued a high alert in the state in view of the Muzaffarnagar violence. While the government has directed deployment of 28 companies of additional police force at different places in the state, five companies of PAC and as many of RAF have been rushed to the affected areas in Muzaffarnagar.

Security was also beefed up in Ayodhya and adjoining district which are falling in the route of VHP's yatra.
Army not conducting operation in Balochistan
Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani paid a rare visit to the insurgency-hit Dera Bugti district in Balochistan on Friday where he dismissed allegations of army conducting an operation in the province.

He called upon the nationalist tribesmen to join development efforts launched by the government and reap “peace” dividends.

Speaking at the Sui Military College, Gen. Kayani brushed aside charges of military excesses against Baloch nationalists and categorically stated that not even a single soldier was involved in any operation in Balochistan.

General Kayani said the (paramilitary) Frontier Corps and police were dealing with the law and order situation. Baloch youth took up arms in 2006 when former military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf launched an army operation in the area and killed former governor Nawab Akbar Bugti.

The army chief highlighted the positive role the army had been playing in the socio-economic development of the province. Over 20,000 Baloch students were enrolled in the army and Frontier Corps-run education institutions, including cadet schools, medical colleges, mining institutes and others, he said.

During the past three years, Baloch representation in the army has been raised from 1.7 per cent to 3.5 per cent. The army chief reiterated Baloch integration by citing that over 12,000 soldiers from Balochistan had been recruited in the Pakistan Army. Currently, 760 Baloch officers are serving in the army, he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch said that although Balochistan was passing through a critical juncture, it was the government’s resolve to steer the province out of the crisis.

“I appeal to all warring tribes and disgruntled Baloch who left Dera Bugti to set aside their differences and play their role in the province’s development,” he said. —

Changing the mix
Army to phase out religion, caste and class-based units

The battlefield in a few years' time may not resound with "Jo bole so nihal, sat sri akal" and "Jat balwan, jai bhagwan", the battle-cries of some of the single class infantry units.

In one of the biggest departures from tradition for a long time, the army has decided to phase out the religion, caste and class-based units as part of a total transformation of its composition to acquire a truly national character.

The climactic changes with far-reaching consequences are bound to be controversial. Already, on their merit, opinion is divided among serving and retired army officers. And the envisaged proportionate representation in the army to all states, correcting the existing imbalances (see chart), has the potential of raising the hackles of the adversely affected communities.

Regardless of that, national integration will now be the main binding force in the army rather than the centuries-old traditions and honour of the units. What is envisaged is an army of 'all-class, all-India mix' in the next 25 years.

Though the new ideal is already in place to various degrees, the arms most affected will be the infantry, armoured corps, and to an extent the artillery, where most units have been nurtured on the concept of martial races: such as the Sikhs, Rajputs, Jats and Dogras. Only the Gorkhas will be exempt, for touching them could affect relations with Nepal.

According to the timetable drawn up for the infantry and artillery, during the first phase of three to five years, one single class battalion in each regiment will be converted to 'fixed class' (consisting of sub-units of different classes). In the second phase extending to 10 years, all single class battalions will become 'fixed class'.

During the third and fourth phase, expected to take another 10 years, all 'fixed class' units will be transformed to 'mixed' (each class having a certain percentage) and then 'all-class, all-India' units.

However, the armoured corps will do it in a modified manner following objections that phased changes would adversely affect troop morale. They will only replace the retiring jawans by troops recruited on an all-class, all-India basis, yet achieve the ideal in 15 years.

Though a rationalisation of the army was considered as early as 1949, what has clinched the issue is the recent developments in the country. The approach paper on the issue prepared by the Adjutant General, Lt. Gen. R.V.S. Kulkarni, last year made it amply clear: "Growing violence, increasing communal divide and secessionist movements underline the need for an army of a truly national character.''

Also, studies conducted by the army revealed that in single class units, regional and sectarian aspirations tended to disturb discipline. A presentation on the move was given at the army commanders' conference in April 1991. Subsequently, the policy was formulated and circulated in October 1991. The task of identifying the units that need re-organising has already started.

The main criticism of the new policy is that it will blunt the fighting edge of the army. Lt-Gen (retd) Harbux Singh, Western Army commander during the 1965 war with Pakistan and former colonel of the Sikh Regiment, says: "Being from the same stock is good for the morale in battle." A serving general adds: "Till India acquires sophisticated weaponry, the man behind the machine will continue to be important."

Criticising the quota system, Lt-Gen (retd) Bhupindar Singh, former Central Army commander, says:''The only consideration should be improving the fighting efficiency of the army and not equitable distribution of fishes and loaves.'' Since internal security duties have been a factor behind the move, some critics advise single class troops in war and mixed troops in peace.

Among the advocates of the move is the former vice-chief, Lt-Gen S.K. Sinha: "Mixed regiments can check collective insubordination by any community." Arguments apart, the policy is a fait accompli.

Army chief General S.F. Rodrigues said recently: "Rationalisation of the army is a political decision and will have to be done." Now that the changes have been set in motion, the 'unity in diversity' concept in defence will be put to test in the coming years.
India expects more violence instigated by Pak in run up to elections, say sources
Kochi: India expects incidents of ceasefire violation by Pakistan to increase in the next few months ahead of general elections and to coincide with a change at the top in the Pakistani Army.

Defence Minister AK Antony said today that the Indian armed forces are "free to respond to the developing conditions at the border appropriately."

Mr Antony's statement, at the launch of India's first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, came as Pakistan violated the ceasefire agreement at the Line of Control or LOC in Kashmir five times in three days, three of those attacks on various Indian Army posts in the last 24 hours, despite Islamabad's call for steps to ensure truce.

This has been described by the Indian Army as the biggest ceasefire violation in recent months. Early last week, five Indian Army soldiers were killed at the border; a Border Security Force or BSF jawan died yesterday.

Pakistan, however, has said that India's BSF has violated ceasefire and summoned the Indian deputy high commissioner in Islamabad today to "express concern" and ask New Delhi to uphold the ceasefire agreement of 2003 (Read).

Defence Ministry sources say they expect Pakistan's Army to step up hostilities at the border with general elections in India just months away. Also, the sources say, Pakistan's Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani is expected to retire in November and seems to be flexing muscle to send a message to the civilian government in Pakistan, led by newly elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Pakistan has also been known to favour the strategy of pushing through as many militants as possible before the mountain passes of the Himalayas close with the onset of winters and use the skirmishes at the border as cover for the infiltration attempts.

On the intervening night between Monday and Tuesday last week, Pakistani troops ambushed a patrol party of the Indian Army, killing five soldiers, and injuring a sixth in the Poonch sector, 200 km south of Srinagar. A Border Security Force or BSF jawan was injured in the incident and he died in a Delhi hospital on Sunday.

Mr Antony had been forced to amend his statement on the LoC killings in Parliament last week after the Opposition alleged that his words absolved the Pakistan army. After first blaming "people dressed in Pak army uniform", the minister directly blamed "specialized troops" of the Pakistan army.

Pakistani soldiers targeted several Indian posts over the weekend. On Sunday, they had attacked five posts in Mendhar and some in the Kanachak sector of Jammu and Kashmir.
Compulsory military training against democratic ethos: AK Antony
NEW DELHI: Compulsory military training to all youths is against democratic ethos of the country and is highly undesirable as some of the trained men could join the ranks of radical forces, Defence Minister A K Antony told the Lok Sabha today.

In a written reply to the House, he also said the government is not in favour of making military training compulsory as under the democratic set up of the nation, people are free to chose their profession.

"Military training to all the youths may lead to militarisation of an entire nation. With our socio-political and economic conditions, it is highly undesirable, lest some of the unemployed youths trained in military skills join the ranks of the radical forces," Antony said.

He said the government is not in favour of making military training compulsory as India is a democratic republic and the Constitution does not provide for such a thing.

"In our democracy people are free to chose their profession. Compulsion in respect of military training, it is felt, would go against the democratic ethos," Antony said.

He said compulsory military training to youths is not necessary as the armed forces have a large number of volunteers to draw upon and there is no problem in getting adequate numbers of volunteer recruits.

Training of all the youths will also be a "big drain on limited resource" of a developing country like India, he said.

"Training of all the youth would require establishment of a very large number of training centres, all over the country and would involve huge expenditure in their maintenance and upkeep," he said, adding that the likely benefits will not be commensurate with the expenditure involved in such an effort.

The Defence Minister also noted that diversion of the productive youth work force for a compulsory military training would be counter-productive for the nation.

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